Kai Dickerson
Community Specialist
Posted June 15, 2020

How your tone can impact getting a job

When it comes to speaking with employers, the old adage "it's not what you say, but how you say it" couldn't be more true. Learn how to improve your tone of voice to get hired.
Kai Dickerson
Community Specialist
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How your tone can impact getting a job
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Congratulations! You got the call from the company that you applied to and they want to schedule an #interview with you. Now it’s time to work on presenting yourself as the best possible candidate for the job.

If it’s an in-person interview, think about what you should wear. Always research the company, so you can ask questions about your (possible) future place of employment. And consider what you’ll say in advance of the interview.

What is ‘tone of voice’ and why does it matter?

Your tone of voice says a lot about you. The way you deliver the phrase, “Here’s what I can offer your company” can come across much different to the person you’re speaking to than how you may think it sounds. Your tone is a subtle — but crucial — reason why an interviewer may hire you (or why they may not).

A study published in Psychological Science looked at how a person’s speech showed not only what they’re thinking, but their capacity for reasoning, thoughtfulness, and smarts.

Changes in cadence (the way your words flow) and pitch (the highness or lowness of your voice) reveal many nuances of your personality, including trustworthiness, dominance, and attractiveness.

Finding the right tone for phone interviews

Phone interviews can be even more intimidating than an in-person interview. This is where your tone of voice really comes into play. Interviews over the phone lack a personal connection — there’s no eye contact or body language to convey emotions to the person interviewing you.

You’re left to communicate your enthusiasm, work experience, and competency through your voice alone. Like an in-person interview, be sure to speak clearly and with energy.

A secret to sounding positive on the phone is smiling. By smiling when you speak it will help the tone of your voice sound positive, energetic, and engaged. Practice saying something with a straight face and then switch it up by smiling as you say it. Sounds different, right? The interviewer won’t know you’re smiling on the other end of the phone, and you’ll come across as positive and happy.

Your posture also affects the way you sound. Slouching during your interview comes across exactly how it sounds — sloppy. Sitting upright helps you breathe — and speak — much better.

Practice makes pitch perfect

It’s always a good idea to practice interviewing before your interview. Not only will it give you the chance to rehearse how you’ll answer questions, but it will also help you work on any shaky verbal skills you may have. Until you practice you may not be aware of your tendency to use filler words and phrases (also known as “verbal tics”) like “you know,” “um,” “like,” speaking too fast or too slow, or not enunciating words.

Pay attention to your speech patterns to make yourself aware of unwanted verbal tendencies and help reduce them from your conversational speech. Call a friend and have them listen to you practice. Ask them to help point out these potential interview pitfalls, including filler words, your tone, and pace of speaking.

Below are a few helpful suggestions for how to come across as the best candidate for the job during your phone interview:

  1. Be strong and consistent
    You know you can do the job — so now’s the time to convey that you’re the best candidate. Avoid talking too softly or mumbling your answers. Using the hiring manager’s tone as a guide is a helpful way to maintain the consistency of your own voice.

    If they’re soft-spoken, try not to speak too loudly and overtake their tone. And, if they’re boisterous and outgoing, try to match their enthusiasm.

  2. Avoid talking fast
    It can be difficult to take your time if you’re nervous — and speaking too quickly can make you appear anxious and unsure. Show you’re confident (and quell your nerves) by taking a breath, gathering your thoughts, and express yourself with self-assurance and determination.

    Speaking slightly slower is generally perceived as thoughtful and believable, and your words will have more impact during your interview. Remember that confident applicants take their time and don’t blurt out answers.

  3. Don’t confuse confidence with cockiness
    This is a biggie. There’s a fine line between knowing you’re the best candidate for the position and coming across as conceited or self-centered. It’s perfectly acceptable to talk about your qualifications and explain how you would be an asset to the company.

    A positive attitude influences the tone of your voice and shows that you’re happy (and grateful) to be at the job interview. But considering the interview or position as not worth your time — or that you’re overqualified — is not the route you want to take. Hiring managers will immediately disregard you as a possible candidate because they think it means you won’t work well with others.

Biggest takeaway: Keep in mind that many interviewers decide whether you’re a potential employee during the first few minutes of meeting you. It’s important to make a good impression in that amount of time — and the quickest way to do it is by knowing how you sound when you speak.


Has your tone of voice ever effected your life? Share your story in the comments below.

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Kai Dickerson
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joyce you

Yes, my tone of voice has affected my life: It all started with "reading with expression"—you know, what primary teachers always coach students to do in round-robin read-aloud practice. I got chosen for lead parts in class and school plays; chosen for giving speeches at my graduations and other school and church conferences; sponsored by my college for overseas work; and hired by employers I interviewed with. I'm saying this to underscore the truth in what you mentioned about how speaking clearly and with confidence (not cockiness!) and in a friendly, energetic tone is key in making a good impression in interviews. In daily life, too, speaking clearly, with confidence...and that important "smile in the voice" has helped me when dealing with challenging situations over the phone, like customer service and claims departments!

1y
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My voice is very deep lil like josh Turner's but I see what needs to be done for my situation i can be very verbal can reach attention across a large room of people. So thank you for this article I never knew how my voice comes out till I read this very interesting. Although all the lady voices i talk to on the phone cant wait to meet me.....just to see I'm n average dude..lol.

40w
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